A second-half brace from Kailey Willis and Ileana Farrugia handed Malta U-19’s women’s team a well-deserved 2-1 victory against Azerbaijan in their second European qualifier.
The young Maltese put on a commanding showing to recover from Azerbaijan’s early lead in this game.
It was the perfect showing from Frank Schembri’s side to follow up the impressive 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland in their opening game.
For this encounter against the Azeris, coach Schembri made one change from the formation that faced Northern Ireland. Raiders Lija’s Sarah Vella Barbieri was given the nod after starting on the bench in the tournament opener.
Goalscorer Maya Lucia was in the starting formation, forming the midfield trio with Veronique Mifsud and Michaela Cachia.
Azerbaijan could not have asked for a better start when forward Parvin Safaraliyeva opened the score inside the first minute when she slotted the ball past Giulia D’Antuono from close-range.
Malta’s reply came through a Maya Lucia long-range shot which struck the woodwork before Veronique Mifsud saw her effort go inches wide.
Mifsud tried her luck from a free-kick which sailed over the bar. Just before half-time, it was Kailey Willis’ turn to try and level terms for Malta just to see her set-piece effort blocked by the Azerbaijan goalkeeper.
Substitute Ileana Farrugia had a strike saved by the Azerbaijan custodian as Malta came out from the dressing room in search of a leveller.
An equaliser that forward Willis managed to find on the 62nd when she capitalised on a Farrugia cross for her first goal in this tournament.
Malta’s comeback was completed when seven minutes later, Lucia whipped in a cross on which Farrugia connected to head home the second goal for the Maltese side.
The Maltese girls almost found a third when a Farrugia chance was cleared on the goal line by the Azeri side.
In the closing stages, goalkeeper D’Antuono came to Malta’s rescue with another wonderful stop to preserve the victory for her nation.
Schembri’s U-19’s selection will wrap its qualification commitments against Faroe Islands, on Tuesday.
G. Guleruz; A. Nahmadova, M. Rahimova, S. Ashirova (81 B. Kocabey), I. Bir, F. Ahmadli (75 S. Arzik), F. Senses, L. Alizada, A. Muradova, P. Safaraliyeva, N. Zerioul.
Coach: Vugar Asgarli.
G. D’Antuono; M. Cardona, A. Gatt, T. Falzon, M. Fenech (84 G. Mifsud), V. Mifsud, M. Cachia (79 I. Mifsud), M. Lucia, Y. Carella (54 I. Farrugia), K. Willis, S. Vella Barbieri.
Coach: Frank Schembri.
Referee: Triinu Laos (Estonia FA).
Scorers: Safaraliyeva 1, Willis 62, Farrugia 69.